Banda della Magliana
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|Founding location||Rome, Lazio, Italy|
|Years active||c. 1970s-1992|
|Territory||Rome, Ostia, Fiumicino, Lazio|
|Criminal activities||Racketeering, drug trafficking, murder, corruption, prostitution, robbery, fraud, weapons trafficking|
|Allies||Sicilian Mafia, various Camorra's clans and the Casamonica Clan|
The Banda della Magliana was an Italian criminal organization based in Rome, particularly active throughout the late 1970s until the early 1990s. Given by the media, the name refers to the original neighborhood, the Magliana, of most of its members.
The Banda della Magliana was involved in criminal activities during the Italian years of lead (anni di piombo). The Italian justice tied it to other criminal organizations such as the Cosa Nostra, Camorra or 'Ndrangheta, but most importantly also to neofascist activists such as the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari (NAR), responsible for the 1980 Bologna massacre, the secret services (SISMI) and political figures such as Licio Gelli, grand-master of the freemasonic lodge Propaganda Due (P2). Along with Gladio, the NATO clandestine anti-communist organization, P2 was involved in a strategy of tension during the years of lead which included false flag terrorist attacks. These ties, underground compared to their standard (i.e. "run-of-the-mill") activities (drug dealing, horserace betting, money laundering, etc.), have led the Banda to be related to the political events of the conflict which divided Italy into two during the Cold War, and in particular to events such as the 1979 assassination of journalist Carmine Pecorelli; the 1978 murder of former Prime minister Aldo Moro, also leader of the Christian Democracy who was negotiating the historic compromise with the Italian Communist Party (PCI); the 1982 assassination attempt against Roberto Rosone, vice-president of Banco Ambrosiano; "banker of God" Roberto Calvi's 1982 murder; and also the 1980 Bologna massacre. Finally, the mysterious disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, a case peripherally linked to former Grey Wolves member Mehmet Ali Ağca's 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, has also been related to the gang, though the Emanuela Orlandi case may not be connected to the "Grey Wolves", but may have been one of the "run-of-the-mill" Banda della Magliana criminal activities, the Orlandi kidnap designed specifically to persuade the legally immune Vatican Bank to restore inequitably retained funds to Banco Ambrosiano creditors.
The first criminal act of the Banda della Magliana was the kidnapping of duke Massimiliano Grazioli Lante della Rovere on November 7, 1977, against a ransom. The duke was murdered but the ransom obtained anyhow. Instead of spending everything, the group decided to keep the savings to invest in crime in Rome and take over the capital.
Unlike the Camorra or Cosa Nostra, the Banda della Magliana was not structured around a hierarchical pyramid. It was instead composed of various decentralized cells, each working on its own. Making equal shares and living off dividends obtained from the criminal association, they quickly took over Rome, surprising the underworld by their violent methods. If members were imprisoned, money continued to be sent to them through their families - while successful members, going around in Ferraris and Rolex, had to keep up their criminal activities, thus remaining "crime laborers" (operai del crimine).
Far right ties and Mino Pecorelli's assassination
Some gang members, including founder Franco Giuseppucci, Maurizio Abbatino and Alessandro d'Ortenzi, were far right sympathizers. Crime, however, and not politics, was the main activity of the group, and some material incentives much needed to get them involved in this field. One of their first contact with the Italian neofascist movement was in summer 1978 — a few months after Aldo Moro's murder — in a villa of Rieti owned by criminologist, psychiatrist and neofascist professor Aldo Semerari. In exchange of financing his political activities, Aldo Semerari proposed psychiatric expertise to arrested gang members in order to help them be released.
However, the deal did not last long, as Aldo Semerari was assassinated on 1 April 1982 in Ottaviano (Province of Naples). He had made the same deal with Raffaele Cutolo's Nuova Camorra Organizzata (NCO), as well as with the rival organization of the Cutolo, the Nuova Famiglia (NF) headed by Carmine Alfieri. This pleased neither Umberto Ammaturo's family nor the NCO. Beside being a famous far right criminologist, Aldo Semerari was also member of Propaganda Due (P2) masonic lodge and maintained links with the SISMI, the Italian military intelligence agency.
More important links were found between the Banda della Magliana and the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari (NAR) far right terrorist group, in particular through Massimo Carminati, a NAR member who was a good customer of Franco Giuseppuci and Maurizio Abbatino's bar. Massimo Carminati quickly became a "pupil" of the gang, and introduced to them Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro, both of whom were accused of complicity in the 1980 Bologna massacre. The two criminal organizations quickly became closely linked, with the Banda della Magliana laundering the money obtained from NAR's hold-ups to finance their political activities, while the NAR helped the Banda in street activities (racket, drug transportation, etc.). However, their most mysterious "joint venture," which raised serious questions, concerned weapons: ammunition, guns and bombs belonging to both groups were surprisingly found in the basements of the Italian Health Ministry.
In the same basement were found ammunition cartridges of a brand not easy to find on the market (Getelot). Coming from the same lot were four bullets, of the same type and use, which marked them as the ones used for a specific homicide: Carmine Pecorelli, a journalist who had published allegations about Prime minister Giulio Andreotti's ties to the Mafia, and was murdered in 1979. Giulio Andreotti and his leading assistant Claudio Vitalone have been suspected in this assassination: Andreotti was convicted in November 2002 of ordering the murder of Pecorelli, and sentenced to twenty-four years imprisonment. But the eighty-three-year-old Andreotti was immediately released pending an appeal, and on 30 October 2003, an appeals court over-turned the conviction and acquitted Andreotti of the original murder charge.
During the trial, the Italian justice clearly proved the involvement of the banda della Magliana in Pecorelli's murder, although the person materially responsible for the killing, Massimo Carminati, was released. Also according to the judges, the trial proved "clear links between Claudio Vitalone and the banda della Magliana through the person of Enrico De Pedis," (alias Renatino, one of the leaders of the Banda della Magliana). They continued however by stating that the "probatory evidence was not unequivocal." Thus, due to insufficient evidence, Claudio Vitalone was released.
Roberto Calvi's case
Roberto Calvi, alias "God's Banker" in charge of Banco Ambrosiano, which main-shareholder was the Vatican Bank, was killed in London on 18 June 1982. Banco Ambrosiano, which crashed in one of the major financial scandals of the 1980s, was involved in money-laundering activities for the mafia, and allegedly in funneling funds to the Polish Solidarity trade union (Solidarność) and the Contras in Nicaragua. Ernesto Diotallevi, one of the leaders of the Banda della Magliana, is being prosecuted for Calvi's murder.
In 1997, Italian prosecutors in Rome implicated a member of the Sicilian Mafia, Giuseppe Calò, in Calvi's murder, along with Flavio Carboni, a Sardinian businessman with wide ranging interests. Two other men, Ernesto Diotallevi (purportedly one of the leaders of the Banda della Magliana) and former Mafia member turned informer Francesco Di Carlo, were also alleged to be involved in the killing.
On 19 July 2005, Licio Gelli, the grand master of the Propaganda Due or P2 masonic lodge, was formally indicted by magistrates in Rome for the murder of Calvi, along with Giuseppe Calò, Ernesto Diotallevi, Flavio Carboni and Carboni's Austrian ex-girlfriend, Manuela Kleinszig. Licio Gelli, in his statement before the court, blamed figures connected with Calvi's work financing Solidarność, allegedly on behalf of the Vatican. Gelli was accused of having provoked Calvi's death in order to punish him for embezzling money from Banco Ambrosiano that was owed to him and the Mafia. The Mafia was also claimed to have wanted to prevent Calvi from revealing that Banco Ambrosiano had been used for money laundering.
On 5 October 2005, the trial of the five individuals charged with Calvi's murder began in Rome. The defendants are Giuseppe Calò, Flavio Carboni, Manuela Kleinszig, Ernesto Diotallevi, and Calvi's former driver and bodyguard Silvano Vittor. The trial is taking place in a specially fortified courtroom in Rome's Rebibbia prison and is expected to last up to two years.
On 6 June 2007, all five individuals were cleared by the court of murdering Calvi. Mario Lucio d'Andria, the presiding judge at the trial, threw out the charges citing "insufficient evidence" after hearing 20 months of evidence. The verdict was seen as a surprise by some observers. The court ruled that Calvi's death was murder and not suicide. The defence had suggested that there were plenty of people with a motive for Calvi's murder, including Vatican officials and Mafia figures who wanted to ensure his silence. Legal experts who had followed the trial said that the prosecutors found it hard to present a convincing case due to the 25 years that had elapsed since Calvi's death. An additional factor was that some key witnesses were unwilling to testify, untraceable, or dead. The prosecution had earlier called for Manuela Kleinszig to be cleared, stating that there was insufficient evidence against her, but it had sought life sentences for the four men.
On 7 May 2010, the Court of Appeals confirmed the acquittal of Calò, Carboni and Diotallevi. The public prosecutor Luca Tescaroli commented after the verdict that for the family "Calvi has been murdered for the second time." On November 18, 2011, the court of last resort, the Court of Cassation, confirmed the acquittal.
Furthermore, the son of Roberto Calvi has claimed that Emanuela Orlandi's case was closely related to Calvi's case.
Emanuela Orlandi, a citizen of Vatican City, mysteriously disappeared on June 22, 1983 at the age of fifteen. Although the case still has not been solved, and Orlandi has remained missing ever since, apparently some have tried to exchange her for Grey Wolves member Mehmet Ali Ağca, who shot the Pope in 1981. Allegedly, some of the persons who tried to strike the deal with the Vatican were members of the Banda della Magliana.
In 2005, an anonymous phone call broadcast by the Rai 3 TV live program Chi l'ha visto?, a transmission about missing people's finding, stated that in order to find a resolution on the Orlandi case, it would have to be discovered as to who is buried in Saint Apollinare church, and about the favour that Enrico De Pedis made to Cardinal Ugo Poletti at the time.
The church of Saint Apollinare, located near Rome's Piazza Navona, is home to a crypt where popes, cardinals and Christian martyrs are buried, as well as to the tomb of Enrico De Pedis, also known as Renatino, one of the most powerful heads of the Magliana gang, assassinated on 2 February 1990. The basilica is part of the same building of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music that Orlandi attended, and where she was last seen. De Pedis' interment in the church is an unusual procedure for a common citizen, also considering his gangster status. Authorizing the interment at the time was Cardinal Poletti, now deceased.
In February 2006, an ex-member of the Magliana Gang recognized behind the voice of Mario, one of the killers working for De Pedis. Mario was one of the anonymous persons who had phoned to propose the exchange of Emanuela Orlandi for Mehmet Ali Agca.
- murder of Aldo Moro
- 1980 Bologna massacre and strategy of tension
- Giuseppe Calò (prosecuted in Calvi's murder, along with Licio Gelli, headmaster of Propaganda Due)
- Roberto Calvi and Banco Ambrosiano
- Emanuela Orlandi
- Carmine Pecorelli
- Gladio NATO stay-behind network
- Banda della Magliana, by Otello Lupacchini
- Ragazzi di Malavita, by Giovanni Bianconi
- La Banda della Magliana, by Gianni Flamini
- Romanzo criminale, by Giancarlo De Cataldo